Thursday, December 3, 2009

Let's enjoy Japanese: Month mayhem

So how's the Japanese coming? Oh, you know how to say all 12 months, do you? Well how about their alternative names? Yes, you heard me.

I was talking to one of the Japanese teachers at my school the other day and she mentioned that each of the months has a kind of alternative name. A secret name, if you will. Some of them seem to be well-known, but some of them aren't very widely used and so some Japanese may not recognize them (according to her). Each of these names has some kind of meaning, which you may be able to garner from the kanji used. She didn't know the meanings behind some of them, so neither do I. Anyway, here's what we have:
For those of you who may not be familiar with kanji, the 月 character means month in this case.

January - 一月 - 睦月(むつき) - (睦 - peace or harmony + month)

February - 二月 - 如月(きさらぎ)- (如 - going forward or proceeding? + month)

March - 三月 - 弥生 (やよい) - (unclear on the meaning, but some names come from this one)

April - 四月 - 卯月 (うづき) - (卯 - to grow or bloom + month)

May - 五月 - 皐月(さつき) - (unsure of this one, as well)

June - 六月 - 水無月(みなづき) - (水 - water + 無 - without + month)

July - 七月 - 文月(ふみつき) - (文 means writings and apparently used to be used to mean letter (手紙), so I suppose this was a month filled with correspondence?)

August - 八月 - 葉月(はづき) - (葉 - leaf + month)

September - 九月 - 長月(ながつき) - (長 - long + month)

October - 十月 - 神無月(かんなづき) - (神 - gods + 無 - without + month)

November - 十一月 - 霜月(しもつき) - (霜 - frost + month)

December - 十二月 - 師走 (しわす) - (師 - master, teacher + 走 - run; this illustrates a busy time with people running around)

There you have it. Now get to it - you can be the first foreigner on your block to know two names for every month!.


  1. i wouldnt have thought their december would be so busy because they dont have christmas shopping like us

  2. Well, the end of the year is always a busy season for some businesses (and most companies have end-of-year parties for their employees), for students there are exams, and of course there are preparations for the New Year's celebration.